Regrets and triumphs of Vancouver’s outgoing mayor, in his own words

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun
As some bloggers tell it, about-to-be-former-mayor Sam Sullivan is so enraged at being dumped from the NPA ticket that he probably leaked the secret Olympic Village report that’s causing his party’s incumbents such grief.
So, when I tell you how Sullivan mused in an end-of-term interview with me on Monday that being squeezed off the ballot by his colleague Peter Ladner might be what he secretly wanted all along, I imagine some readers will dismiss it as spin. Some will see a smokescreen to hide his real intent, others as a sop to explain failure.
Me? I’m not so sure. I think what I heard was maybe just Sam being Sam.

Sure, this one-term mayor, four-term councillor revels in the image that he plays hardball. He’s proud to be good at inconspicuously influencing fence-sitters to commit to his side – a characteristic that his critics might call sly. He cares about things like loyalty and turf.
But he’s also intellectual, introspective and too intrigued by interesting ideas to resist exploring them, even when they involve intensely personal things that most would rarely voice out loud, let alone in the newspaper.
And think about why he says what he says.
First, there’s a list that has grown daily since he lost the NPA nomination of things he won’t miss – a reason that surely resonates with anyone who ever sat through even a few hours of a public consultation process.
And then there’s a blunt – and, I’m guessing, accurate – assessment of his strengths and weaknesses.
“My thing in life,” he told me, “is that I start things – I create new realities. But I also have always recognized that I am not the right person to finish them. I just don’t have that mindset. I get bored, and I want to start another new thing.”
I opened our conversation by asking him to tell me about three key regrets and triumphs – a question that, I thought, would invite him to vent a bit, if he were so inclined, and also to preen and crow.
Yet I had to prompt him to get just two regrets – the strike, which he readily mentioned and went on about a length, and getting dumped by his party, which sounded a lot like an afterthought.
But triumphs? This list went on and on, percolating through other answers for the 40 minutes we talked. All centred around votes to launch new initiatives – Eco-Density and Civil City Project most prominent among them, but a great many more, and he phoned me at home that evening to name several additional ones.
What struck me is that everything he talked about was the kind of thing that might perk up the ears of a policy wonk like me, but none were the grandstand events that we journalists and citizens generally assume motivates all who aspire to office.
He voiced only mild disappointment at the prospect of missing the mayor’s place on the stage during the 2010 Olympics, and at a series of pending ribbon-cuttings for projects that he championed.
Good grief, I actually had to remind him – and I got no sense that he was playing coy – to mention his great moments in the spotlight at Turin and Beijing.
Finally, he told me unequivocally that he voted in an advance poll for every NPA candidate on the slate, and he has raised money for Ladner and his team to campaign.
So are those bloggers right, or am I? Decide for yourself. Click here to read the transcript from our interview.